Neck pain is the second most common complaint among our patients second only to lower back pain of course.
There are myriad reasons that pain in the neck can occur. Sometimes the cause is obvious, a patient has had an accident or injury resulting a physical trauma that causes pain in the neck or cervical region. However, other times you may not be able to pin point a specific incident or don’t understand what happened to actually cause the pain you are experiencing. In medical terms this is called idiopathic pain which can be more difficult to treat.
Your neck is made up of ligaments muscles and bones. The cervical spine (the upper vertebrae of the spine) goes from the skull to the torso between each vertebrae are discs that act as shock absorbers between the bones.
Injury, inflammation and a range of abnormalities to any of the above can cause neck pain and stiffness.
Types of neck pain and possible causes
Pain going down your neck through your shoulders or arms is called radiating neck pain or cervical radiculopathy. If you experience this you may be suffering from either a cervical herniated disc spinal spinal stenosis or degenerative disc disease.
Cervical radiculopathy is commonly associated with an injury near the nerve root and is often called a “pinched nerve”. Radiating pain may be accompanied by numbness or tingling down the arm.
Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. As the spinal canal narrows it puts pressure on the nerves which in turn may cause pain. Foraminal stenosis is the narrowing the cervical disc space due to the enlargement of a joint in the spinal canal. In some cases this condition may require surgery.
Degeneration of the disc, where the space between the individual vertebrae becomes smaller and the disc becomes less spongy and therefore less capable of absorbing shock, is also a very common cause for neck pain.
In some case muscle stiffness may be the cause of neck pain. In these cases trigger point injections can help by encouraging blood flow to the region by igniting the body’s inclination to self heal.
If you are experiencing neck pain that persists your pain management specialist can order Xrays and MRIs to discover the root cause of this pain and develop a multi-modal treatment plan to combat pain and help you regain your quality of life.